Assessing the digital hospital transformation

Published June 2020 by Professor Andrew Burton-Jones

Smith, N., Burton-Jones, A., Sullivan, C. “From benefits idealisation to value optimisation: Application in the digital health context,” Australian Health Review (forthcoming) 2020.

Burton-Jones, A., Akhlaghpour, S., Ayre, S., Barde, P., Staib, A., and Sullivan, C. "Changing the Conversation on Evaluating Digital Transformation in Healthcare: Insights from an Institutional Analysis," Information and Organization (30:1) 2020, pp 1-16.

Eden, R., Burton-Jones, A., Staib, A., and Sullivan, C. "Surveying Perceptions of the Early Impacts of an Integrated Electronic Medical Record across a Hospital and Healthcare Service," Australian Health Review (forthcoming) 2020.

Eden, R., Burton-Jones, A., Grant, J., Collins, R., Staib, A., and Sullivan, C. "Digitising an Australian university hospital: qualitative analysis of staff-reported impacts," Australian Health Review (DOI: 10.1071/AH18218) 2019.

Eden, R., Burton-Jones, A., Scott, I., Staib, A., and Sullivan, C. "The Impacts of eHealth upon Hospital Practice: A Synthesis of the Current Literature," Australian Health Review, and Deeble Institute Evidence Brief, Australian Healthcare and Hospital Association (42:5) 2018, pp 568-578.


  • The Digital Hospital transformation represents a multi-billion investment by the state to improve the delivery of healthcare to Queenslanders.  It is important to evaluate the investment.     
  • Two problems are evident in past literature on this topic:
    • It is hard to measure the impacts of these investments and to pinpoint what causes the impacts. 
    • There is a lack of consensus on how to evaluate such transformations.

What’s new

  • Through a program of research, our studies have:
    • Identified the impacts stakeholders should expect from the digital transformation (Eden et al. 2018)
    • Measured the impacts from the digital transformation using qualitative techniques (Eden et al. 2019) and quantitative survey techniques (Eden et al. 2020)
  • Our work has also identified institutional forces that constrain evaluations of digital transformation (Burton-Jones et al. 2020).  In particular, there is a lack of appreciation for the transformational nature of the investment.  The initiative tends to be run and evaluated from a project perspective rather than as a transformation of the core business of providing healthcare (Burton-Jones et al. 2020, Smith et al. 2020).  
  • The key insight?  Appreciating the transformational nature of the investment will facilitate the Digital Hospital initiative and its evaluation.

Bottom line

Our studies provide stakeholders associated with the Digital Hospital initiative in Queensland, and those associated with similar initiatives elsewhere in Australia and internationally, with:

  • Evidence from the literature regarding what they should expect from the investment.
  • Qualitative evidence and quantitative survey evidence regarding some of the impacts of the investment to date
  • An understanding of institutional factors that constrain the transformation and its proper evaluation
  • Recommendations for what these stakeholders can/should do to overcome these constraints


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